Sunday, June 12, 2011

Yaquina Head LIghthouse and Tide Pools

You could make a whole summer trip traveling the coast of Oregon by stopping at each lighthouse, all 9 of them and checking out the sites around them. There are TWO in the town of Newport, so we went on a tour of the tallest one in Oregon on the coast-Yaquina Head. The 93 foot tower stands 162 feet above sea level. There's an outstanding natural area there as well, and the sign officially states "Outstanding Natural Area" just to confirm that you are at a really cool nature site! There are trails to the tide pools at the base of the cliffs that are accessible year round. The lighthouse tour is FREE.

There was a tour lady dressed in period costume explaining the lighthouse keeper's duties and how hard they worked to keep the lighthouse beacon working. He lived there with his wife and SEVEN children. No electricity. Rainwater was collected in a cistern. They had to carry pig lard oil (and you thought it was whale oil probably, like me) up 114 stair steps. That bucket was HEAVY! I couldn't figure out why my legs were killing me the next day. I thought it was from swimming some laps ( I did finally make it into the pool) but nope! It was taking those 114 steps quickly going up and then coming back down that day. Pretty good workout. Nothing like climbing stairs to get the old heart a pumpin' and the leg muscles working! The tour lets you get really really close to the Fresnel lens and light (automated today) within just a few feet. Hard to believe that itty bitty light can be seen so far out to sea...

lens and light

view from the lighthouse grounds
Off to the tidepools the next day,  at the same location...after consulting the tide schedule...we went around noon, and it was really interesting--you've got your sea lions and seals and birds off shore, and then the amazing pools of life left behind by the tide. Lots of school kids were there and well behaved at that. It was fun to see their excitement and learning going on...Personally, I thought it was brave of the school to let them come out to barnacle covered slippery rocks which were begging for someone to take one misstep and fall, especially with how kids mess around on a field trip!...I got nervous about myself after hearing one of the park rangers say he got five stitches from a slip and fall on the barnacles there at the tidepools. Not only were the rocks difficult to negotiate because you had to step around and through colonies of barnacles EVERYWHERE, but you had to watch you didn't step on squishy anemones that looked just like the rocks! Learned some new things about the little and not so little creatures in the tidepools...chitons look sorta like small footballs, certain kinds of anemones have identical DNA. They divide like amoeba cells, and if a slightly different genetic type of anemone tries to attach itself, they fight each other! HOW do they fight? I have no idea! It's amazing to me that they let so many people come down to the tidepools and step willy-nilly around on the rocks. I will say there were  LOT of park personnel moving around, working with kids. What a wonderful experience that is for everyone, adults, too!

Ew-w-w-w! Lots of slimy, squishy your step, Sparky!  I did...negotiating the cobblestones on the beach was much more hazardous. The whole beach down by the tidepools is covered with these black round cobblestones that start to roll when you step on them! Gingerly we made our way back to the safety of the steps back up to the parking lot.

We had a great conversation with a retiree there, who volunteers at the tide pools. We love meeting people, talking to them about their volunteer jobs, and learning lots more about our marvelous country than we ever learned in school when we were growing up. Some day we hope to be volunteers in a park somewhere, but we're not quite ready to stay in one spot long enough to do that yet! Eldo and Sparky are still on the move!

We really enjoyed the tidepools today....hope to see some more up the coast..I supposed if you've seen one, you've seen them all but different beaches offer different views around the pools and different proportions of sea creatures. It was a great day in the RV full timing lifestyle!


  1. I must admit I have never visited a tide pool. I've done the hands on at several aquariums though. Does that count?

    Looks like you had a beautiful couple of days.

  2. That reminds me of the starfish thrower:

    As he got closer he called out, "Good morning! What are you doing?" The young man paused, looked up and replied, "Throwing Starfish into the ocean."

    "I guess I should have asked; why are you throwing Starfish into the ocean?"

    "The sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don't throw them in they'll die."

    "But young man, don't you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and Starfish all along it, you can't possibly make a difference!"

    The young man listened politely, then bent down, picked up another Starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves. "It made a difference for that one."

  3. Great story, Pat. I want to visit the tide pools too. Another one to add to my list.

  4. Enjoyed the story, Pat. Thanks for sharing.

  5. if you're going on up to Washington, I highly recommend beach combing at the beaches near LaPush! hopefully they won't be as crowded ~ and the tidepools are awesome there too...

  6. Unfortunately, we are leaving the coast area of Oregon after Seaside, and heading towards the center of Washington but thanks for the info! Got it marked in our travel notes!

  7. Correcction everybody! Got my lighthouses mixed up. The lighthouse keeper and the seven kids is at the OTHER lighthouse in Newport, Yaquina Bay Lighthouse. Sorry about that!